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The United States could "destroy" the Syrian air force, but this intervention would not tip the scales against the Syrian regime in its war against opposition forces, and it would "potentially further commit the United States to the conflict," said Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. "Stated another way, it would not be militarily decisive, but it would commit us decisively to the conflict," wrote Dempsey in an Aug. 19 letter to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member. Further, such military options "cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict," said Dempsey. Greater humanitarian assistance, expanded capacity-building efforts with partners in that region, and investment in the development of a moderate Syrian opposition form "the best framework for an effective US strategy toward Syria going forward," wrote Dempsey. This missive builds upon Dempsey's July 19 letter on US military options in Syria. The new letter came two days before Syrian opposition forces claimed that the Syrian regime had employed chemical weapons against a rebellious area east of Damascus, killing scores of people.